Tick birds queue on giraffe

Tickbirds on giraffe in South Africa

Restaurant with a view! A photographer caught the moment birds queued along the long neck of a giraffe as they fed off ticks in its fur.

The tick birds were photographed in South Africa as they lined up behind one another along the length of a giraffe’s neck.

South African tourist guide Paul Harding, 56, photographed the strange moment in Mkuze Game Reserve in the northern part of the country.

The tick birds were in search of tasty ticks and other parasites buried in the giraffe’s fur.

Mr Harding said: “The bird at the bottom of the queue was quite vocal and it seemed like it was chastising his colleagues to try and get them to move up the giraffe.

“I had rounded a bend in the bush and came face to face with a lone giraffe, we looked at each other for a moment and that is when I noticed all the birds hanging on to its neck.

“The image of the birds, all lined up and looking up the giraffes neck seemed comical.”

Tick birds, or oxpeckers, feed exclusively off the backs of larger animals.

The birds are usually found perched on the backs of large mammals searching for ticks, botfly larvae and other parasites to eat.

Mr Harding, of Cape Town, said: “Maybe the bird at the back of the queue was trying to move up so he could get to more ticks.”

Mr Harding took the incredible pictures at the end of July 2014.

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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